Prince Andrew's, Virginia Roberts Giuffre's attorneys spar in court over legitimacy of papers served in UK
Epstein accuser sues Prince Andrew, claims she was sexually assaulted by him when she was 17
Federal prosecutors on the civil case are still attempting to talk with the British Royal after sending him a formal request nearly one year ago
The first pretrial hearing was held Monday in the civil lawsuit brought by one of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged trafficking victims, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who claims Prince Andrew sexually assaulted her when she was 17 years old.
Attorneys representing both sides sparred over whether the process by which the papers were served to the Duke of York was legitimate. U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan ultimately gave Giuffre’s attorneys one week to determine whether or not to have U.K. authorities involved in the document-serving process.
Prince Andrew was not present for the telephone hearing with the Southern District of New York, which was scheduled for 4 p.m. EDT. The duke’s attorney in the U.S., Andrew Brettler, joined on his behalf. Giuffre is represented by a handful of prominent attorneys, including David Boies and Sigrid McCawley.
Brettler is no stranger to defending high-profile clients against sex abuse allegations. He boasts a plethora of big-name former clientele, including Bill Cosby and Armie Hammer. Meanwhile, Boies previously represented Elizabeth Holmes, who is currently on trial over allegations related to her health care startup, Theranos, and disgraced filmmaker Harvey Weinstein.
Virginia Giuffre has long alleged she was abused by the Duke of York when she was underage.
Attorneys for Giuffre have said they served him with legal papers on the morning of Aug. 27. The legal team said the documents were handed over to a Metropolitan Police officer on duty at the main gates of Andrew’s home in Windsor Great Park at 9:30 a.m. Assuming that Andrew received the documents, he would be obligated to respond within 21 days of the summons, or “judgement by default will be entered against you for the relief demanded in the complaint,” Giuffre’s lawyers said in the documents.
But Blackfords, a law firm that said they represent Andrew “in certain U.K. matters,” has questioned whether the papers were properly served and raised the possibility of challenging the court’s jurisdiction in the case, according to a Sept. 6 letter referenced in court documents filed by Giuffre’s attorneys.
Photo from 2001 that was included in court files shows Prince Andrew with his arm around the waist of 17-year-old Virginia Giuffre who says Jeffrey Epstein paid her to have sex with the prince. Andrew has denied the charges. In the background is Epstein’s girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell.
(U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals)
“We reiterate that our client reserves all his rights, including to contest the jurisdiction of the US courts (including on the basis of potentially defective service),” they wrote.
During the roughly 30-minute hearing, Brettler called Giuffre’s lawsuit “baseless, nonviable and potentially unlawful,” in part because the parties previously reached a settlement.
“There has been a settlement agreement that the plaintiff has entered into in a prior action,” Brettler argued. “That releases the Duke and others from any and all potential liability.” Kaplan interrupted Brettler, asking that he reserve the discussion to the question of the legitimacy of the paper service.
Brettler also vigorously argued that a U.K. High Court should rule as to whether the documents were legitimately served and said the papers were not served “pursuant to the Hague Convention.”
Giuffre’s attorneys insisted the papers were legitimately served. After back and forth, which appeared to exasperate the jurist, Kaplan told the attorneys he would enter a request to the U.K. Central Authority to serve Andrew, if Giuffre’s lawyer asks the court to do so within a week.
Brettler also wrote in court papers filed Monday morning that he planned to challenge the case’s jurisdiction, Law & Crime Network reported. And during the hearing, he asked the court if he could present details of a settlement agreement from another case under seal, which he believed would exonerate his client. Kaplan replied that the matter was out of his jurisdiction.
Attorneys will be back in court, this time in person, on Oct. 13.
Prince Andrew has repeatedly denied the allegations in the lawsuit brought by Giuffre, a longtime accuser of Epstein, a now-deceased convicted sex offender.
Last month, Giuffre accused Andrew of battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The lawsuit claims she was forced to have sex with Andrew three times on Epstein’s orders.
Speaking to Fox News after the hearing, Julie Rendelman, a New York-based criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor, said raising the issue of whether the papers were properly served was likely a way for Andrew’s attorneys to buy themselves time.
David Boies, representing several of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged victims, center, arrives with Annie Farmer, right, and Virginia Giuffre, alleged victims of Jeffrey Epstein, second left, at federal court in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. Epstein, a convicted pedophile, killed himself in prison earlier this month while awaiting trial on charges of conspiracy and trafficking minors for sex. Photographer: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images
(Photographer: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
“Any tactics that delay the case, they’re going to take,” she told Fox News, “and this is just one of them.“
Rendelman is not involved in the case. Assuming the allegations are true, Rendelman said, the people’s view is that Andrew has “been dodging having to face any consequences.”
“I think there’s going to be implications in the fact that he is royal in terms of a. How hard they’re going to fight to prevent him, to protect him as much as possible,” she said. “This is going to take a long time before we get anywhere. And the first question I think everyone’s going to want to know is, is he going to be in a scenario in which he’s going to be interviewed? Is he going to have to sit for depositions?”
She added: “My guess is, they’re never going to let that happen.”
Fox News’ Tyler McCarthy contributed to this report, as well as The Associated Press.
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